Category archive: Seattle Mariners


The Dodgers have chosen Blake DeWitt as their Opening Day second baseman and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger as their No. 5 starter.

Manager Joe Torre delivered the news to both players when they reported to Dodger Stadium on Thursday for the first of the team's final three exhibition games.

Before Torre and general manager Ned Colletti let DeWitt know he had made the club, they played an April Fool's joke.

DeWitt said Torre told him he was being sent to Triple-A Albuquerque. After DeWitt admitted he didn't know the date, Torre told him it was April 1.

Ronnie Belliard and newly acquired Jamey Carroll will serve as infield backups.

-- The Associated Press


Jake Peavy declared he feels as good as he did in his 2007 Cy Young Award season despite giving up two home runs in four innings in his final spring start as the White Sox lost to Triple-A Charlotte 4-3.

Peavy gave up three runs and four hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. Peavy struck out six through three scoreless innings before surrendering home runs to Stefan Gartrell and Josh Kroeger on cut fastballs. He left after throwing 68 pitches.

Mark Kotsay and Carlos Quentin homered for Chicago, which played its regulars four innings before finishing the game with many players from Class A Winston-Salem.

Jeff Marquez allowed two runs and five hits in five innings for the Knights.

-- The Associated Press


The Reds' plans to slash their spring training roster have been pushed back another day.

The Reds made two moves, optioning right-hander Carlos Fisher to Triple-A Louisville and reassigning catcher Corky Miller to their minor league camp. They're left with 38 players in camp -- 13 over the limit for Opening Day.

General manager Walt Jocketty had indicated the club would substantially reduce the roster on Thursday. However, the team wasn't able to tell some of the players about its plans before they left the training complex following a 7-6 win over Texas, so the rest of the moves were put off for another day.

-- The Associated Press


Outfielder Brian Anderson is going to give pitching a try.

Anderson signed a one-year, $700,000 free-agent contract with the Royals in the offseason after finishing 2009 with the Red Sox. But instead of taking a minor league assignment as an outfielder, the former first-round draft pick opted to go to the low minors and work his way back as a pitcher.

Royals manager Trey Hillman says he's not sure how the transition will work "but it's going to start at the very bottom."

Anderson last pitched in college for Arizona, where he appeared in 17 games and had a 5.40 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.

Selected by the White Sox with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft, Anderson has a .227 average in five major league seasons with 22 homers and 80 RBIs.

-- The Associated Press


Right-hander Johnny Cueto had trouble getting his back loose and struggled through four innings, but Scott Rolen hit a homer and sacrifice fly that rallied the Reds to a 7-6 victory over the Rangers.

Cueto hasn't had any issues with his back this spring and didn't think the problem was serious. He gave up 10 hits and five runs in four innings. He also hit two batters.

Rolen hit a two-run homer off closer Frank Francisco, who started the game and gave up four hits in his one inning. Reds minor leaguer Daniel Dorn singled home a run in the seventh and hit a two-out solo homer in the ninth off left-hander Richard Bleier to win it.

-- The Associated Press


Jeff Francis, who missed last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, pitched five scoreless innings for Colorado before Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer in the sixth lifted the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over the Rockies.

Francis entered with a 7.27 ERA but Colorado's No. 2 starter held the Cubs to three singles and three walks in his best outing. The left-hander won 17 games in 2007 before going 4-10 the next year as his shoulder became problematic.

Soriano, who slumped most of March, capped his three-hit day with a homer off Matt Daley. Coming off his worst season -- .241 with 20 HRs and 55 RBIs -- Soriano has only two homers and five RBIs this spring.

Cubs starter Carlos Silva allowed six hits over five scoreless innings.

-- The Associated Press


Scott Elarton pitched two scoreless innings in his first start since 2008 and a squad of White Sox minor leaguers roughed up Ian Snell in a 9-4 win over the Mariners.

Elarton, who hasn't pitched in the majors since the Indians placed him on the disabled list in July 2008 for what the club then called a non-baseball medical condition, signed a minor league deal this week. He gave up one hit and struck out one.

Snell, the Mariners' No. 2 starter, gave up six runs and 10 hits while striking out five.

The White Sox's big league roster left Thursday morning for exhibition games in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta.

-- The Associated Press


John Lackey walked his first batter in 20 innings this spring and gave up a run in the Red Sox's 5-3 win over the Twins.

The Red Sox scored two runs in the eighth inning off Twins reliever Ron Mahay. Scott Schoeneweis pitched a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox.

Lackey went five innings and gave up six hits, including a homer to Jim Thome. He walked six and struck out two.

"I thought he got on some fastballs," manager Terry Francona said. "I think like [Jon] Lester and [Josh] Beckett, he's ready for the season. I think he's raring to go. I think he was chomping at the bit a little bit today even."

-- The Associated Press


Jamie Moyer pitched six strong innings and the Phillies closed out their spring training schedule with a 4-2 win over the Pirates.

Moyer, who was named the fifth starter two days earlier, gave up solo home runs to Ryan Church and Ryan Doumit but held Pittsburgh in check the rest of the way. The 47-year-old left-hander scattered six hits while striking out three and walking none.

Moyer, who underwent three offseason operations, enters his 24th major league season healthy and coming off a strong spring. In six starts, including three B games, Moyer had a 2.02 ERA while striking out 23 and walking just one in 26 2/3 innings.

-- The Associated Press


Newly acquired Nate Robertson allowed one earned run on two hits in seven innings and even drove in a run in the Marlins' 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.

"I got here yesterday with a full car, my family is back in Detroit and I'm pitching seven innings in the final game of the Grapefruit League," Robertson said. "But I'm excited to be here. If there was a team to go to, it's definitely the team that drafted me and got me going into my professional career."

Robertson, acquired in a trade with the Tigers on Wednesday, surrendered a run in the fifth when Ryan Ludwick led off with a double to left, stole third and scored on David Freese's groundout to short.

"What I saw today I liked," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He threw a lot of strikes. I think he went seven innings and didn't get to 90 pitches."

-- The Associated Press


Chris Johnson hit his team-leading seventh home run of the spring, but the Astros dropped a game to a Tigers split-squad 4-2.

Houston reliever Brandon Lyon allowed three runs on four hits in one inning.

-- The Associated Press


Mark Teixeira doubled and singled after missing two games with a sore elbow as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 5-2.

Teixeira wore a protective shield on his right elbow, which was bruised when he was hit by a pitch Monday against Baltimore. Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher each had a pair of singles for New York.

Right-hander A.J. Burnett allowed two runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings for the Yankees, including Jose Bautista's home run on his second pitch.

New York's Joba Chamberlain pitched in consecutive games for the first time this spring.

-- The Associated Press


Mets right-hander John Maine pitched through stomach problems and allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings as the Washington Nationals defeated New York 9-3 Thursday.

Maine, who will pitch second in the Mets' rotation, gave up six hits and walked four.

Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer for Washington in the fourth off Maine to make it 3-2, and the New York pitcher couldn't get through the fifth.

He walked two to start the fifth. Adam Dunn followed with an RBI single and Willingham drove in another run on a ground-rule double to take the lead.

-- The Associated Press


Five-time All-Star and camp long shot Mike Sweeney has likely made the Seattle Mariners as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman.

The news came as part of the Mariners' announcement infielder Ryan Garko was claimed off waivers by Texas. Left-hander Garrett Olson was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

The 36-year-old Sweeney has kept his spring batting average well above .500. He also has picked up where he left off last season by mentoring young players, and has been a popular clubhouse leader.

-- The Associated Press


David Huff is the Cleveland Indians' No. 5 starter.

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who was in competition for the job, was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.

Huff gave up one run and five hits in seven innings to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday in his final spring audition. The 25-year-old led Cleveland with 11 wins a year ago as a rookie after making his major-league debut on May 17.

Carrasco, 23, was one of four players acquired from Philadelphia in the trade that sent 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee to the Phillies in July. He had a 12-inning scoreless stretch earlier this spring and compiled a 4.60 ERA overall in four outings.

-- The Associated Press


Outfielder Corey Patterson ended his tryout with the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, opting out of his contract for free agency.

The 29-year-old Patterson, who has played in parts of 10 big league seasons, agreed in November to a minor league contact with the Mariners and had the right to be released on seven days' notice if not put on the 25-man roster. If he had been put on the big league roster, he would have received a $650,000, one-year deal.

Patterson appeared in 19 games this spring, and batted .216 (8 for 37) with two doubles, two home runs and two RBIs.

In 1007 games, Patterson hit .252 with 104 homers and 363 RBIs with five teams. He made his major league debut with the Cubs when he was a highly regarded 20-year-old prospect.

-- The Associated Press


Cristian Guzman made his first start at second base since losing the shortstop job to rookie Ian Desmond and helped turn two double plays in the Washington Nationals' 9-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

Guzman also went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Guzman has played 1,272 games, all at shortstop. Manager Jim Riggleman said Guzman will be "somewhat of a utility player, but more than that."

"We really don't have too much concern that he's a problem over there, but if we did he alleviated that today," Riggleman said.

Nationals infield coach Pat Listach said the most difficult adjustment is turning the double play.

"He's got to get used to not seeing the runner," Listach said. "He's going to be fine over there. It looked like he's been there his whole life."

-- The Associated Press


The Cleveland Indians have sent left-hander Jeremy Sowers outright to Triple-A Columbus.

The team's first-round draft choice in 2004 was one of three players optioned to Triple-A, along with outfielder Trevor Crowe and catcher Wyatt Toregas.

Right-hander Hector Ambriz placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday.

Sowers had a sore shoulder early in spring training, which put him behind in the competition for a roster spot. The 26-year-old is out of options and could not be sent back to the minors without going on waivers.

Sowers, drafted sixth overall out of Vanderbilt, has an 18-30 record and 5.18 ERA in 72 career games.

-- The Associated Press


Catcher Jason LaRue is only suffering from a "deep bone bruise" and is "day to day," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday.

The Cardinals -- who are already without catcher Yadier Molina, who has a strained right oblique muscle -- had thought they might also lose LaRue for an extended period of time after he suffered an injury to his left hand in a tag play at the plate against the New York Mets on Tuesday. But Mozeliak said LaRue, who had an MRI on Wednesday morning, likely won't need to be placed on the disabled list.

"I had visions of a broken hand -- that was the worst case -- to what we're talking about right now," Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch. "Emotionally, it was up and down."

Molina had his best workout since being injured Wednesday morning and said he felt no pain. Manager Tony La Russa told the Post-Dispatch that he thinks Molina could play on Opening Day; if he isn't ready Monday, he could be placed on the DL retroactive to March 26, which would make him eligible to play on April 11.

-- news services


The Detroit Tigers completed their Opening Day roster, sending outfielder Clete Thomas to Triple-A Toledo.

That move puts utility player Don Kelly on the team.

An MRI exam showed Thomas' right shoulder is bruised, but manager Jim Leyland says the injury won't prevent him from being a designated hitter for the Mud Hens.

-- The Associated Press


Minnesota Twins catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Glen Perkins will start the season in Triple-A.

The Twins optioned both players to Rochester on Wednesday. Ramos is a promising prospect who hit .400 this spring, including a home run on Tuesday over a 35-foot high wall behind the center field fence.

But with Joe Mauer entrenched as the starter, the Twins want Ramos to play every day. Drew Butera will be the backup.

Perkins has been bothered by a sore back. He went 6-7 with a 5.89 ERA last season for the Twins.

Right-handed reliever Pat Neshek, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, has made the roster.

-- The Associated Press

SANCHEZ WHIFFS 11 (7:48 p.m. ET)

Jonathan Sanchez had his strongest outing of the spring Monday, giving up one run on three hits and striking out 11 in six innings as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6.

Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter against San Diego on July 10, gave up only one hit after the first inning. Rickie Weeks homered with one out in the sixth inning.

John Bowker, making a bid for an outfield spot on the Giants' opening day roster, continued his strong hitting with his fifth home run and a double.

Bowker hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning, one of two given up by Brewers starter Dave Bush.

Eugenio Velez went deep with a man on in the first for San Francisco.

-- The Associated Press


Joel Pineiro took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Kansas City Royals 10-2 on Monday.

Pineiro worked 6 2/3 innings, his longest of five spring appearances, and allowed only two hits and a run with two walks and two strikeouts.

Over his last 15 2/3 innings, Pineiro has allowed three earned runs. His spring ERA is now 3.48.

Scott Podsednik?s lead-off double in the sixth broke up the no-hitter. Podsednik scored one out later on Rick Ankiel?s double.

Royals starter Kyle Farnsworth made his second start and fifth appearance of the spring and allowed one hit in two innings.

Royals closer Joakim Soria was hit hard, allowing four hits and four earned runs without recording an out.

-- The Associated Press


Alberto Callaspo may not be ready for the Kansas City Royals season opener April 5 with Detroit because of an irritation in his right side.

Callaspo has been held out of all baseball activities since the injury, which occurred Friday while taking batting practice.

Callaspo hit .300 last season with 41 doubles and 11 home runs. He was slated to bat third and play third base.

-- The Associated Press


Andrew McCutchen hit one of Pittsburgh's four home runs and the Pirates unveiled their new-look batting order Monday in a 13-1 romp over the Houston Astros.

Pirates manager John Russell plans to begin the season with his pitcher hitting eighth, a move that will shift McCutchen from leadoff to second in the batting order.

With pitcher Paul Maholm in the No. 8 spot, Akinori Iwamura hit leadoff, McCutchen was in the No. 2 spot and shortstop Bobby Crosby batted ninth.

The only change Russell might make would be putting Ronny Cedeno, scratched because of lower back pain, in the lineup instead of Crosby.

Iwamura hit a three-run homer and McCutchen, Brandon Jones and Andy LaRoche had two-run shots.

"It sets us up to score more runs," Russell said. "It really seems to make a lot of sense, a way to get more guys in scoring position in front of Aki, Andrew, [Garrett] Jones and ([Ryan] Doumit. It creates good balance in the lineup."

The Pirates claimed RHP Hayden Penn off waivers from the Florida Marlins. To clear space on the 40-man roster, OF Brandon Moss was designated for assignment. The Pirates have 10 days to trade, release or waive him.

Moss, a former Red Sox prospect acquired in the Jason Bay trade in July 2008, hit .081 this spring. He hit .232 with 13 home runs and 64 RBIs in 178 games with Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old Penn was 1-0 with a 7.77 ERA in 16 games with Florida last season and is 4-6 in 30 games with the Orioles and Marlins.

For the Astros, right-handed pitcher Roy Oswalt (left hamstring tightness) was examined in Houston by Dr. Michael McCann. Oswalt received an injection in his back and will make his scheduled start Wednesday. Oswalt is expected to start as planned on Opening Day.

-- The Associated Press


Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Chris Carpenter will start Opening Day in Cincinnati.

And Jaime Garcia kept up his bid for a spot in the St. Louis rotation, pitching six innings Monday as the Cardinals beat the Minnesota Twins.

Garcia gave up two runs and eight hits without a walk. La Russa said there probably would be an announcement about the starting staff.

"He knew what was at stake and he handled himself well," La Russa said. "He got a lot of balls on the ground and threw a good assortment of pitches."

Kyle McClellan, who was in competition with Garcia and Rich Hill for the final rotation spot, has been a valuable member of the bullpen the last two seasons with a 3.73 ERA in 134 games. He can be used in the middle to late innings.

"That's where we need him," manager Tony La Russa said. "I just don't think we have enough depth."

Said McClellan: "It's pretty obvious with [Garcia] in our rotation it's going to be a very solid rotation. I can go back to the bullpen and improve on what I've done the last two years."

Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick homered off Twins starter Kevin Slowey. Minor leaguer Daniel Descalso hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

-- The Associated Press


Yankees minor league ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte is expected to pitch in his first major league spring training game during Tuesday's split-squad contest against Atlanta.

Venditte, who uses a six-finger glove, pitched at Class-A Charleston and Tampa last season, posting a combined 4-2 record with 22 saves.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he has wanted to see Venditte pitch all spring.

Girardi earlier this spring asked that Venditte be sent over for a big league game from the minor league complex.

Yankees Opening Day starter CC Sabathia is scheduled to start the game with the Braves.

Also, reliever Alfredo Aceves has back tightness and will not pitch for the next few days.

-- The Associated Press


Jose Reyes is a step closer to appearing in a game for the first time this spring.

The New York Mets' shortstop took batting practice against minor league pitchers Monday morning and said the session went better than expected.

Reyes has participated in six workouts since returning to camp Wednesday, following a three-week absence with a hyperactive thyroid that prevented him from doing any physical activity.

"I didn't expect to hit the ball that hard today," Reyes said of the session. "I expected to swing at a couple and miss, but it was better than I expected."

The two-time All-Star hasn't played in a game, other than an intrasquad scrimmage, since last May when he was sidelined because of a hamstring injury.

Reyes said he still doesn't know when he will get into a game or if he will be ready for Opening Day, but he hasn't had any problems since returning.

"I haven't played since last May so I can't wait to get on the field and play with my teammates, but right now we're going to take it one day at a time and see what happens next," he said.

-- The Associated Press


Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow threw 52 pitches in a simulated game after being shut down for a week due to a "dead arm."

He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out four of 14 batters. He says he "felt great, could've kept going."

Morrow, projected as the No. 3 starter in the Blue Jays rotation, is scheduled to make his final spring start Saturday at Houston and said he could go five or six innings against the Astros.

He took himself out of his previous start on March 19 against Houston after experiencing soreness in his right shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

-- The Associated Press


Erik Bedard is back on a mound for the Mariners -- albeit at less than half speed.

The oft-injured left-hander took his first step to rejoining Seattle's jumbled rotation by tossing about 20 pitches off the mound out of the stretch position Monday morning.

General manager Jack Zduriencik, special assistant Tony Blengino, manager Don Wakamatsu, pitching coach Rick Adair, two other coaches and two trainers watched the 6-minute session in a side bullpen.

The Mariners estimate Bedard could pitch again by June, though this mound work is earlier than originally expected.

Bedard joked to Zduriencik his throws were "all strikes."

-- The Associated Press


Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman says the team has settled on four-fifths of its starting rotation, with 1997 World Series MVP Livan Hernandez and Craig Stammen earning spots along with Opening Day starter John Lannan and Jason Marquis.

Stammen will be the team's No. 3 starter, and Hernandez earned the fourth spot after signing a minor league contract in February.

Riggleman says Monday the fifth starter's job is "up in the air," with Scott Olsen, Garrett Mock and J.D. Martin in the running.

The Nationals have some time to make a decision, because an off day early in the regular season means they won't need a fifth starter until April 11.

-- The Associated Press


The Padres have pushed back right-hander Mat Latos' scheduled Saturday start because of a sore elbow.

Manager Bud Black says Latos, one of several pitchers battling for two spots in the rotation, will instead throw in the bullpen and that he's already improving.

Latos is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four appearances this spring. In 14 innings, Latos has allowed nine hits and walked three while striking out 11 batters.

Last season, Latos was 4-5 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts until the Padres shut him down in early September to reduce the wear and tear on his arm. Latos had pitched a combined 123 innings between the major and minor leagues after throwing 56 combined innings in 2008.

The Padres have said Latos won't throw more than 150 innings this year.

-- The Associated Press


Second baseman Brian Roberts tested his ailing back in a game Friday night for the first time this spring. Although he showed no sign of injury, his swing still apparently needs some work.

Roberts went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Baltimore's 4-3 loss to the Twins. Roberts spent the previous six weeks at camp receiving treatment and doing exercises to ease the pain of a herniated disc in his lower back.

"My body, it felt pretty good," he said after his six-inning stint.

And his swing?

"Obviously not stellar," Roberts said. "My last at-bat, actually I started to finally feel a lot more comfortable in the box. My first two, I was pretty clueless."

-- The Associated Press


Jamie Moyer bolstered his bid to win Philadelphia's fifth starter spot by giving up one hit over 6 2/3 innings in the Phillies' 3-0 victory over the Yankees.

The 47-year-old left-hander is competing with Kyle Kendrick, who has a 1.37 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over five games. Moyer struck out six and hit one batter with a pitch.

"Pretty good," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "Threw good quality strikes down. Even when he missed, he was close. Got a little yo-yo on it every now and then. Back door. Up and down."

Moyer underwent two major offseason surgeries. He had a sports hernia operation in October and underwent another procedure on his left knee in January.

"I really didn't know what to expect because I haven't been through his kind of thing in the past," Moyer said. "So, go wing it and see what happens. Being in this clubhouse with this group of guys, it's a winning environment, it's a winning situation. It's really hard to walk away from."

-- The Associated Press


Junior's still got it. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam off Kip Wells in the bottom of the ninth inning to give his Mariners a 6-5 victory over his former team, the Reds.

Asked the last time he had hit a game-ending slam in any game -- spring training, during any of his 24 professional seasons, at Cincinnati Moeller High School -- Griffey said, "Never."

Griffey, who has hit 630 home runs in his career, had swung wildly and missed with the count 3-0, looking anxious. On 3-1, he again looked antsy chasing a low pitch.

Then he drove a belt-high fastball from Wells into right-center field. Griffey was grinning as he approached the plate. All the Mariners were waiting with high-fives and back slaps but spared him the joyous pummeling that he got a couple times last season for late-game hits.

"Just one of those things," Griffey said. "It's spring training. Everyone's working on something. I'm starting to be able to do some things [like wait on pitches]. And I happened to get a ball up into the wind tunnel."

-- The Associated Press


After struggling in his last two starts, Diamondbacks right-hander Edwin Jackson had his best outing of spring training. Jackson threw six scoreless innings, allowing five hits with three walks and two strikeouts in Arizona's 10-1 victory over the White Sox.

"His delivery was significantly better," Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said. "He wasn't jumpy or out of control like he had been his last couple of outings. He was very much in control of the game."

Jackson has worked on his mechanics after allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Reds and four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Giants.

He said he shook off few signs from catcher Chris Snyder.

"I was just finding a rhythm, going out there and keeping a nice tempo, making adjustments from pitch to pitch instead of waiting until the inning snowballed to make an adjustment," said Jackson, Arizona's No. 2 starter behind Dan Haren.

-- The Associated Press


It was a wonderful day of pitching for both the Cubs and Athletics -- until Carlos Marmol took the mound.

"You can't have a perfect day in spring training," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after a ninth-inning meltdown by his closer helped an A's split squad to a 5-2 victory.

Oakland starter Dallas Braden was outstanding, Chicago's Carlos Zambrano was even better and several relievers excelled, too. Then Marmol, anointed the Cubs' bullpen ace after spending most of three seasons as the primary setup man, served up Travis Buck's tiebreaking homer on his third pitch.

He followed that by hitting Michael Taylor with a pitch and giving up Landon Powell's single. After Cliff Pennington's run-scoring grounder, Marmol yielded pinch-hitter Shane Peterson's RBI single.

In his previous game, Marmol blew a save by allowing a two-run homer. He has hit a batter in three straight outings.

"His mechanics are off," Piniella said. "He was really flat with his pitches and we were wondering why. I think we found something on the tape. He's coming almost sidearm ... and you lose that good snap. It's something to work on. That's why it's called spring training."

-- The Associated Press


Tim Lincecum left early with a small cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand in the Giants' 5-3 win over the Angels.

The two-time defending NL Cy Young winner had hoped to pitch about six innings but lasted only four, leaving the game with the Giants trailing 1-0. Lincecum threw 84 pitches, giving up a run on six hits while walking two and striking out seven.

The right-hander didn't mention the cut to reporters afterward, but manager Bruce Bochy said it was a combination of the dry Arizona air with Lincecum's grip. Bochy said the same situation also surfaced last spring.

Bochy doesn't expect Lincecum to miss his final start of the spring on March 31, and his ace remains on target to start the season opener at Houston on April 5.

-- The Associated Press


Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer and an RBI double in the Brewers' 9-4 loss to the Padres. Edmonds' drive off Jon Garland in the second inning was his second homer of the spring. The Gold Glove center fielder made the team Thursday when the Brewers purchased his minor league contract.

Garland pitched five innings, yielding two runs and three hits. He missed his last scheduled start with a balky right shoulder.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee's leading candidate to start on Opening Day, had a far less successful outing, allowing six runs and eight hits in three innings.

Gallardo had allowed four runs in 14 innings over his previous four spring appearances.

-- The Associated Press


Opening Day starter Jake Westbrook walked five over four-plus innings during the Indians' 5-4 victory over the Rockies.

Westbrook was charged with two runs and seven hits. He left with a 3-1 lead and the bases loaded. Saul Rivera got out of the jam, allowing one run.

Westbrook is eagerly awaiting his Opening Day assignment -- which will be his first game for Cleveland since May 28, 2008. The right-hander spent all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

-- The Associated Press


David Wright homered and drove in three runs, continuing his solid spring training for the Mets. Wright hit a solo drive in the third inning for his fourth homer as the Mets and Marlins played to an 8-8 tie, calling it off after neither team scored in the 10th.

Nelson Figueroa had his worst outing of the spring for New York, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Wright's shot made it 5-0 but Florida scored eight runs in the bottom half of the third.

-- The Associated Press


Jon Lester pitched six strong innings in his fifth spring start, helping the Red Sox beat a Blue Jays split-squad 3-2.

Lester allowed two unearned runs and six hits, struck out five and walked two. Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez finished up with a scoreless inning apiece.

-- The Associated Press


Shaun Marcum, Toronto's scheduled Opening Day starter, was hit hard in the Blue Jays' 14-10 loss to the Rays. Marcum allowed nine runs and nine hits over five innings, raising his spring ERA to 8.10.

Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay departed with a left knee contusion in the top of the first inning after he made contact with Carl Crawford. He is day to day.

-- The Associated Press


Derek Lowe pitched six effective innings to help the Braves beat the Tigers 5-3. Lowe allowed two runs, one earned, and eight hits. Atlanta's scheduled Opening Day starter struck out four and walked none.

Brian McCann raised his average to .500 by going 2-for-3 for the Braves. Nate McLouth had two hits and two RBIs and is 4-for-9 in his past three games after a 1-for-35 start.

Justin Verlander, scheduled to start on Opening Day for Detroit, gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird each had two hits for the Tigers.

-- The Associated Press


Russell Branyan's dream has turned into an Indians nightmare.

Signed to a $2 million free-agent deal in February and immediately made the starting first baseman by new manager Manny Acta, the 34-year-old Branyan has yet to play this spring with less than two weeks until the season opens.

"It's frustrating," said Branyan, sidelined by a herniated disk in his back. "This was my dream come true, to come back to the Indians and play every day. I've never really had that -- maybe for half of last year. I was pretty excited. This wasn't in the plans."

Acta's lineup plans are on hold as he awaits word on Branyan's progress. Until then, two of the Indians' prized prospects, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, also are in limbo. Both were acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in July 2008.

If Branyan is healthy enough to play first base, LaPorta will go to left field and Brantley most likely back to Triple-A Columbus. Right now, LaPorta, coming off left hip and big toe surgery in October, is playing first base.

-- The Associated Press


Kiko Calero is coming off what he calls the best year of his career. Now the Mets' right-handed reliever wants to improve on it by getting through a whole season without shoulder problems.

New York signed Calero to a minor league deal at the beginning of March despite concerns about a right shoulder that has given the 35-year-old trouble since he had shoulder surgery in 2007.

He was 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA for the Marlins last season, striking out 10.35 hitters per nine innings with the help of a biting, 80 mph slider, but he missed 18 games before the All-Star break with shoulder inflammation.

A candidate for the eighth-inning setup role, Calero said on Friday that he is healthy and expects to be ready for the season.

-- The Associated Press

Carlos Silva solidified his claim on a spot in the Cubs' rotation with four shutout innings and Xavier Nady had a two-run double Tuesday, leading Chicago to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Silva allowed two singles, hit a batter and struck out three in his sharpest outing. Acquired from Seattle for Milton Bradley with two years and $25 million left on his contract, the righty has pitched seven scoreless innings since getting hit hard in his first game.

Nady's RBIs were his first since signing a $3.3 million contract to back up all three outfield positions. He has been limited to DH duties while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. He doubled again in the eighth.

-- The Associated Press

Former All-Star closer Derrick Turnbow says his chances of making the Florida Marlins are "over" after he left Tuesday's game with severe shoulder pain.

Turnbow said he was sure he would "be shut down for a while." He exited Florida's 12-3 victory against the Nationals in the eighth inning.

Turnbow walked one batter and hit another before walking off the mound with the team trainer. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday and said surgery was a possibility.

The hard-throwing right-hander had 39 saves in 2005 for the Brewers and pitched in the 2006 All-Star Game. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008.

He threw 10 pitches Tuesday. As he threw a pitch that hit Danny Espinosa, Turnbow buckled on the mound.

-- The Associated Press

Former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers has been hired as a special assignment scout by the New York Yankees.

Towers was fired by the Padres during the final weekend of the 2009 season after 14 years as their GM.

Towers will scout both professional leagues and amateur players, and evaluate the Yankees' minor league system.

-- The Associated Press

The Seattle Mariners have sent second overall draft choice Dustin Ackley to Double-A West Tennessee, where the impressive 22-year-old will likely begin his first full professional season.

Last August, the Mariners and Ackley agreed on a five-year major league contract worth $7.5 million. Seattle has since tried the sweet-swinging former first baseman and outfielder at North Carolina at second base.

He had three hits in 19 at-bats (a .158 batting average) with three RBIs and one error in 10 spring games.

The Mariners have said they expect Ackley to reach the major leagues soon, though he was expected to begin this season in the minors.

Seattle also optioned outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn left Tuesday's split-squad game against the Florida Marlins after two innings because of a spasm in his lower back.

Dunn made an error in the second inning when he bobbled a grounder in the hole by Logan Morrison. Dunn flied out in the bottom half of the inning and left the game.

A team spokesman said the slugger was day-to-day.

-- The Associated Press

Detroit Tigers CEO, president and general manager Dave Dombrowski weighed in on several Tigers topics on Tuesday morning. Among the highlights:

• Dombrowski called pitcher Dontrelle Willis (7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts this spring) "a pleasant surprise."

Why? "Because he's thrown strikes more consistently. He worked very hard this winter. And his stuff is fine. ... But the best part is, he's throwing the ball over the plate on a consistent basis."

• Dombrowski said rookie center fielder Austin Jackson (.429 average, .515 on-base percentage) "looks like an every-day player on the big league level. He can go get the ball. He's a quality guy. He works very hard. And offensively, if he keeps doing this all year, we'll be in good shape."

• Dombrowski said Magglio Ordonez "is swinging the bat as well as I've ever seen him swing it in the past. He's driving the ball. But he's done that since the very first day he reported. ... I think the ball has a different sound coming off the bat now, like it has in the past."

-- senior baseball writer Jayson Stark

The Cleveland Indians have acquired right-hander Omar Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers.

In return for the 25-year-old, the Brewers are keeping left-hander Chuck Lofgren. Milwaukee selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in December. To send Lofgren to their minor league system, the Brewers had to work out a deal with Cleveland or offer him back to the Indians for half the $50,000 they paid in the draft.

The 24-year-old Lofgren went a combined 9-11 with a 4.15 ERA between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in the Indians' system in 2009.

Aguilar split 2009 between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He went 3-1 with a 4.72 ERA and 14 saves. He will report to the Indians' minor league camp.

-- The Associated Press

Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, coming off a calf muscle injury that shut him down last September, threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Monday night.

Jenks had been scheduled to throw an inning against the Kansas City Royals. But he says there should be no cause for alarm over the decision to throw in the bullpen instead.

''It's the reason we went out there,'' Jenks told reporters. ''It was necessary to get to the point where we could make sure there was nothing wrong."

''I'm excited about where I am physically and mentally, being able to locate and being down with the ball," Jenks said. ''Where I am now, with a few more sessions like this, the game will become not easy but easier.''

-- news services

The Baltimore Orioles are facing the possibility that second baseman Brian Roberts might not be ready for Opening Day, due to a herniated disk in his lower back.

Roberts was expected to return to Orioles camp in Sarasota on Monday after undergoing an exam from a back specialist and receiving an epidural injection to help address the discomfort, The (Baltimore) Sun reported. He has yet to play in a spring training game and the team is waiting to see how he responds to treatment.

The team is considering possible trades to fill the position until Roberts returns, though there have not been extensive talks, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said, according to the report.

Manager Dave Trembley says Ty Wigginton, Robert Andino and Justin Turner could fill the void at second base until Roberts returns.

"We need to do what we can with what we have right here in camp," Trembley said, according to The Sun. "If something happens from outside the camp, we'll deal with it then. We still like to believe that Roberts will be our guy, but we're at the point now where we have to start thinking about the possibility and what we can do elsewhere."

-- news services

Roy Halladay pitched three shutout innings and struck out five in his second spring appearance as the Phillies downed the Braves 7-4.

Halladay was making his second start since being acquired from the Blue Jays during the offseason. Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA for the Blue Jays last season. He said the results didn't matter and that he's just looking do build his stamina for the season. He's pitched five innings this spring without allowing a run.

-- The Associated Press

Justin Upton hit a two-run homer and the Diamondbacks roughed up right-hander Aaron Harang in his first spring training start, pulling away to a 10-4 victory over the Reds.

Upton got a six-year, $51.25 million deal -- the second-largest in franchise history -- last week. The 22-year-old outfielder singled home a run and had a two-run shot off Matt Maloney, who is competing for the Reds' fifth starter role.

Harang, already picked to start his fifth straight season opener, lasted only 1 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits, including three doubles, and walked one, allowing three runs overall.

When spring training began, manager Dusty Baker was noncommittal about whether Harang would start a fifth straight season opener. He has since decided to stay with Harang.

"The ball was coming out of Aaron's hand real nice today," Baker said. "He got two strikes on almost everybody but couldn't put them away. He threw 50 pitches in a short period of time."

-- The Associated Press

Hideki Matsui made his spring debut for the Los Angeles Angels, getting a single in two trips to the plate during a 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres.

Matsui struck out against Chris Young in the first and grounded Radhames Liz's 3-1 pitch up the middle for a hit in the fourth.

Matsui agreed to a $6 million, one-year contract with the Angels in December after spending seven seasons with the New York Yankees. The Japanese slugger hit .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs last year, then was selected World Series MVP despite starting only three of the six games against Philadelphia.

He was scheduled to make his Angels debut on Sunday but the game was rained out.

-- The Associated Press

Left-hander Jeff Francis is hoping his second spring start goes better than his first.

Francis missed last season following shoulder surgery and was hit hard in his first spring start against San Francisco on Friday. He is scheduled to face Kansas City on Wednesday.

Francis says he has made progress during his bullpen sessions and may have been a little too excited when he faced the Giants.

Francis went 17-9 in 2007, helping the Rockies reach the World Series. He slumped to 4-10 in 24 starts in 2008 when he was plagued by shoulder problems.

He underwent arthroscopic surgery to have his torn left labrum repaired last year.

-- The Associated Press

Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan is feeling good this spring as he tries to make it back from shoulder surgery. McGowan threw 30 pitches during a simulated game at Toronto's minor league complex while the rest of the team had the day off.

McGowan hasn't appeared in a major league game since July 8, 2008. He had season-ending surgery three weeks later to repair a frayed labrum and a series of setbacks sidelined him last season.

If McGowan feels no soreness Wednesday or Thursday, the plan is for him to throw one more simulated game, most likely Sunday or Monday. He then could appear in a spring game in mid-March.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos says McGowan looked great Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

Royals catcher Jason Kendall has returned to spring training and says his divorce and child custody case won't be a distraction.

Kendall missed the exhibition game Monday against Cincinnati to be in court in Los Angeles. He returned Tuesday and told reporters he will not "dignify the ridiculous accusations" being carried by various media outlets about his divorce.

He says he wants his personal life to remain private. Kendall, a three-time All Star, brushed off any thought the divorce would affect his play, saying, "Not at all."

Kendall signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Royals in December. The 14-year veteran played the past two seasons in Milwaukee.

-- The Associated Press

Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey returned to the mound Tuesday after being sidelined by a sore right leg.

Pelfrey was struck on the outside of the knee by a comebacker during his first spring start Saturday. He stayed in the game against the Nationals and pitched three innings, but he pushed a scheduled bullpen session back a day because the leg was sore.

Pelfrey said he still had a large bruise but was planning to make his next scheduled start Thursday against the Red Sox.

"It's a little sore but tolerable," he said. "Hopefully after two more days it will feel a lot better."

Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who missed more than two weeks of camp with conjunctivitis, also threw a bullpen session. It was his first time on a mound since Feb. 28. Rodriguez returned to camp Monday and could pitch in a game as soon as Saturday.

Rodriguez still has pink eye, but it's no longer considered contagious. Because he isn't allowed to wear contact lenses yet, he sported prescription sunglasses similar to the ones he wore from 2003 to 2007 while pitching for the Angels.

-- The Associated Press

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is feeling ill, hurting his rehabilitation for a back injury.

Roberts, who led the American League with 56 doubles last season, has yet to play this spring. To speed his recuperation from the back injury, Orioles medical personnel gave him some medication on Sunday. On Monday night, he reported feeling ill. Manager Dave Trembley says Roberts will not be able to resume baseball activities until at least Thursday.

The Orioles begin the season April 6 at Tampa Bay, and Trembley says he believes Roberts will be ready as long as he gets at least 25 at-bats this spring.

"I'm still confident we can get him that," Trembley said. "I'd still like to see him out on the field, but can't get out on the field now that he's sick."

Baltimore also renewed the contract of outfielder Adam Jones on Tuesday for $465,000. Jones, beginning his third season with the Orioles, said he was not upset about the move. "There's no bad blood between the sides," Jones said. "Sign and play out this year."

-- The Associated Press

Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez has begun taking swings off a tee and considers himself ahead of schedule as he recovers from a procedure on his non-throwing left shoulder.

But he's still set to begin the season on the disabled list. A three-time All-Star and the 2006 NL batting champion with Pittsburgh, Sanchez had the shoulder procedure Dec. 23. He's also coming off left knee surgery late last season.

"That hasn't changed," general manager Brian Sabean said. "The optimism is great but that doesn't mean a whole lot. He needs to be game-ready and until he plays a game we can't have a timetable."

Sanchez signed a $12 million, two-year contract with the Giants on Oct. 30. He was acquired July 29 in a trade with the Pirates but was limited to 25 games for San Francisco because of injuries.

-- The Associated Press

Chad Cordero, who accepted a minor league offer from the Seattle Mariners last year, knows he might not stick with the big club right away, and is mentally prepared to pitch in the minors for a while.

But he can still imagine his return to a major league ballgame -- and that would be a triumphant return after suffering career-threatening injuries in 2008 while pitching for the Washington Nationals.

Cordero had a spectacular start to his career. In 2005, he saved a major-league high 47 games in his first full big-league season in Washington. He had 27 saves in 2006 and 37 in 2007, becoming the second- youngest pitcher in history to reach the 100-save plateau, at age 25.

"All those years in D.C., I was feeling so good, then all of a sudden it all comes crumbling down," Cordero said. "It was definitely something I can learn from. Just go out there and work hard and never take this game for granted. This game is awesome and I never want to stop playing."

Cordero, with a torn side muscle, torn labrum and torn biceps, had season-ending shoulder surgery on July 8, 2008, The Nationals released him after the season, and no one took a chance on him. He rehabbed by himself in 2009, and pitched a few innings for a pair of low-level teams.

In his first outing last Friday for the Mariners, Cordero allowed an opening single, then retired the next three batters.

"It'll definitely be exciting to be back up there again but once I get on the mound it'll be like I never left," Cordero said. "I'll be really excited, like a little kid again."

-- The Associated Press

This is a pitcher-catcher partnership that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Rich Harden could like.

Harden, in his Texas debut, pitched two innings of one-hit ball and Saltalamacchia and Matt Brown each hit a three-run homer, leading the Rangers to a 13-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Harden, who spent the past 11/2 years with the Chicago Cubs, had one walk and one strikeout and gave up one unearned run.

"Rich looked great," Rangers catcher Saltalamacchia said. "He was throwing all his pitches with command, which is big, and he was just working on things. He looked comfortable. I could call anything at any time."

-- The Associated Press

Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma tweaked his groin during his one-inning outing Thursday against San Diego, but the Mariners do not believe he will miss much time.

"We don't think it's very serious and he might miss one outing hopefully and that's it," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "It was the very last pitch and he felt something in his groin. Hopefully, we caught it before it gets to be anything serious."

Aardsma worked the third inning, issuing a walk to leadoff batter Yorvit Torrealba. He then got Everth Cabrera to hit into a double play. He induced Tony Gwynn Jr. to end the inning with a left-side groundout.

Aardsma started last season as the team's set-up man, but when Brandon Morrow lost his effectiveness, Aardsma assumed the closer's role on May 15. He had 38 saves in 42 opportunities after going 128 big-league appearances without a save.

-- The Associated Press

Brett Myers showed off his new threads during the Astros' windy spring training opener.

Unfortunately, the veteran pitcher's control wasn't quite as sharp as his new uniform.

Myers, the longtime Phillies hurler, allowed three runs -- two earned -- in two innings, but the Astros rallied with nine runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and cruised to a 15-5 win over a Washington Nationals split-squad on Thursday.

Myers is projected to be the Astros' No. 3 starter behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.

"The good thing was that my ball was moving a lot," Myers said. "The bad thing is I couldn't control where it was moving."

-- The Associated Press

Jason Bay's debut was low-key, but David Wright homered in his first at-bat and the New York Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 17-11 on Thursday.

Bay, a former Red Sox left fielder, went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout in his first game of the spring and first live action with the Mets since signing a four-year, $66 million contract in December.

The Mets brought in Bay to add power to the lineup after he recorded 36 homers last year.

-- The Associated Press

Oakland right-hander Jason Jennings, who signed with the Athletics on Sunday, is scheduled to pitch in a game within a week.

Jennings threw live batting practice for the first time on Wednesday and will throw one more time in game-like situations before the A's slot him into their pitching plans.

Jennings said his arm felt great the morning after his latest throwing session. The A's plan to stretch him out as a starter or long relief. He moved to the bullpen with the Texas Rangers last year.

-- The Associated Press

New York Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson was scratched from the starting lineup for Thursday's game against Philadelphia because of a stiff lower back.

Jamie Hoffmann replaced Johnson in the game that featured new Phillies ace Roy Halladay and Yankees star CC Sabathia.

Johnson was signed during the offseason to take the spot of 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, who is now with the Los Angeles Angels. Johnson hit an RBI double in the Yankees' exhibition opener Wednesday.

Johnson was hurt during batting practice, saying the problem stemmed from wearing spikes for the first time instead of turf shoes on the mats used in the cage.

"Caught a spike," Johnson said. "I felt a little something. I could have played. We'll see how I feel tomorrow."

-- The Associated Press

Outfielder Nelson Cruz and shortstop Elvis Andrus are among 14 Texas Rangers who signed one-year contracts Thursday before the team's first spring training game.

With the moves, the Rangers have every player on their 40-man roster signed for the 2010 season.

Cruz, who hit .260 with 33 home runs and 76 RBIs in 128 games last season, got the biggest contract Thursday at $440,000. Andrus got $418,420 after being one of the AL's top rookies (.267, 33 stolen bases).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($418,580) and Taylor Teagarden ($407,010), catchers competing for the starting job, also signed.

The others who signed, all for at least the $400,000 major league minimum, were infielder Joaquin Arias; first baseman Chris Davis; left-hander Matt Harrison; right-handers Eric Hurley, Warner Madrigal, Guillermo Moscoso, Darren O'Day, Alexi Ogando and Pedro Strop; and catcher Max Ramirez.

-- The Associated Press

Big leaguers Ken Griffey Jr., Torii Hunter, Ryan Braun, Orlando Hudson and Carl Crawford appear in a new TV commercial for Dick's Sporting Goods. The ad shows Griffey and Hunter racing through the store, and concludes with the other players arguing vehemently over whether Hunter was out on a tag play with Griffey at home plate.

The five players filmed the spot at a Dick's store in Dallas in the first week in February. "It was an all-day event,'' Braun said. "It's amazing how much goes into a 30-second commercial.''

Hunter said he spent almost 11 hours at the store -- several more than any of the other participants.

"They all left after six or seven hours, and I was still there doing all the running in the store,'' Hunter said. "I was sweating so much, it took them 30 minutes to get the sweat off me. Man, it was a workout.''

Wherever Hunter goes this spring, somebody asks him, "Torii -- safe or out?''

"It was Griffey's commercial, so it's going to seem like I was out,'' Hunter said. "But I was safe. I got in there.''

-- Jerry Crasnick, senior baseball writer

Tim Lincecum has back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards and a two-year, $23 million contract in his back pocket to show for it. But that hasn't made him jaded about meeting a childhood hero.

Lincecum, a Seattle native, was talking to reporters after throwing an inning against the Mariners when Ken Griffey Jr. -- a player he rooted for as a boy -- dropped by to say hello.

"Lincecum, what's up? I just wanted to say hi," Griffey said, extending his hand.

"It's a pleasure," Lincecum replied, looking awestruck as he shook Griffey's hand and watched him walk away. "It was nice meeting you," he added as Griffey headed for the Mariners' clubhouse.

Lincecum paused, let out a breath and said, "Man. Wow. He just came over. That was pretty cool."

He paused again. Then, he asked the media surrounding him, "What were we just talking about?"

Later, Lincecum acknowledged the experience took him by surprise.

"I followed him. I'm a Seattle native, so getting to watch him do his thing, actually all those guys -- [Jay] Buhner, [Joey] Cora was awesome," he said. "Just to have a guy like that come over, it caught me off guard."

-- news services

Cole Hamels' bread-and-butter pitches have been his fastball and changeup. This spring, the Phillies starter has been working on sharpening his curveball and adding a cutter as well.

But Hamels is also tinkering with a fifth pitch -- a sinker. He's tried it out during games before, with mixed results, and now wants to see if it can become a permanent part of his arsenal, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"A few games, I would throw it, but it would get hit, and I would say, 'Forget this,'" Hamels said, according to the report. "But it's still something I'm throwing in the bullpen and am working with."

Hamels and Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee don't remember how many times Hamels tried throwing a sinker last year.

"If you're trying to pin me down to specific dates, I don't remember, but he threw it more than you might think," Dubee said, according to the report. "It could be a good pitch for him."

-- news services

A vision test during a team physical exam has confirmed what Brewers outfielder Corey Hart has suspected since last year -- he's nearsighted.

"It kind of started last year, but I didn't really think about it," he said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I just kept playing. The ball was a little fuzzy at times, but I didn't think it was that big of a deal."

Rather than eyeglasses or contact lenses, Hart plans to wear prescription goggles in the field to correct his vision, according to the report. He's hoping he can get accustomed to wearing them during spring training.

"I'm hoping they work for me," he said, according to the report. "I don't want to have any trouble picking the ball up. Right now, it's a little fuzzy."

Why wasn't the problem caught last year? "I guessed right [on what letters were shown on the eye chart]," Hart said, according to the report. "This year, I guessed wrong. By the third letter, I was like, 'Maybe H?'"

-- news services

Chris Snyder is still with the team that tried so hard to trade him, and he finds himself in an uphill fight for playing time.

The Arizona Diamondbacks catcher says he was fine with the purported deal last fall that would have sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays.

He called it "a new opportunity." But the trade, reportedly for one-time Diamondback Lyle Overbay, fell through. So Snyder remains with Arizona and must compete for playing time with Miguel Montero, the man who replaced him when he was injured last season.

Manager A.J. Hinch says Montero is ahead of Snyder in training camp but he expects both to be big contributors this season.

-- The Associated Press

Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino is nursing a sore shoulder and could miss Thursday's exhibition game against Florida State, the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Monday.

Victorino took batting practice on Sunday but was held out of throwing drills as a precaution.

"He's got a little soreness," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said, according to the newspaper. "He had it when he first came in to camp. Right now, we don't want to throw him in our drills -- cutoffs and relays and infield. We'll take it easy on him for a few days and make sure he's alright. That's kind of typical when you come into spring training and first start out. It can happen from sleeping on your arm, or anything, really."

-- news services

A year ago, Rick Porcello was considered by some too young to make the Detroit Tigers' pitching staff.

After leading American League rookies in wins last season, Porcello was named as the starting pitcher for Detroit's home opener April 9 against the Cleveland Indians.

"It's an honor, seeing how big the home opener was in Detroit last year," said Porcello, who won 14 games as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009. "Fans were coming out early and tailgating. It's obviously a pretty big deal. I remember how exciting it was and what the buzz was like with the crowd there for opening day. So I'm excited to be pitching in it."

A week ago, manager Jim Leyland chose 19-game winner Justin Verlander for the season opener at Kansas City on April 5. Max Scherzer, who came from Arizona in a December trade, will pitch the second game at Kansas City on April 7.

"I want Scherzer to get his first start under his belt on the road, and I don't know who the other two starters are," Leyland said. "You could pencil about four or five names in right now for the third game, and for the fifth game."

Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Eddie Bonine are in competition for two spots in the rotation as the Tigers prepare to open their exhibition schedule Tuesday against Florida Southern College. Porcello's first spring start is scheduled against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

-- The Associated Press

Dodgers pitchers will begin their battle for the open fifth spot in the rotation three days before the official spring training game schedule begins.

Left-hander Eric Stults will pitch for the Dodgers on Tuesday in a B game against the Chicago White Sox, kicking off what figures to be one of the more interesting competitions of camp.

Stults also has been the named the starter in Saturday's second spring game.

Stults' confidence already was high, but now he will enter the outing after receiving instruction Monday from Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.

Stults was among a handful of pitchers who had a one-on-one session with Koufax. Josh Lindblom, Jon Link, Scot Elbert and Chad Billingsley also worked with the former Dodgers pitcher, who threw four no-hitters over a 12-year career, one of which was a perfect game.

"He does a great job relating to players," Stults said of Koufax. "I don't know if part of it is because he has that aura or awe about him. He's somebody that is special in the game of baseball. But he does have a way of communicating that you understand."

Stults is expected to pitch just one inning Tuesday and then go two innings against the White Sox on Saturday. But make no mistake, after struggling with a sprained left thumb last season and then working on the mental side of the game over the winter, Stults finally feels like it's showtime.

-- The Associated Press

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows a good catcher when he sees one. He spent parts of nine seasons as a catcher in the major leagues.

And he has no doubts about the future of Buster Posey.

"He's a complete guy," Bochy said Monday. "He can handle the bat, and has a strong arm behind the plate. He's an intelligent kid who knows what he's doing back there. He gets better and better. It's a matter of time before he's a front-line catcher in the major leagues."

The time probably will go much slower than the 23-year-old Posey would like.

Gerald Demp Posey III was the fifth overall pick by the Giants in the 2008 draft and won just about every award imaginable in college baseball at Florida State, including the Golden Spikes Award (top overall player) and the Johnny Bench Award (top catcher).

Posey played in 10 minor league games in 2008 and 115 in 2009, hitting a combined .327 with 19 home runs and 86 RBIs.

He got called up to the big club on Sept. 2 when veteran starter Bengie Molina suffered an injury. Posey played in seven games and started four after the team dropped from contention in the NL West. After the season, he got more work with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

That probably wasn't quite enough experience to land him a spot on the 25-man roster when the Giants break camp at the end of March. He knows he likely will begin the season back at Triple-A Fresno, where he can play every day instead of riding the big league bench.

Posey's timetable of reaching the majors might have been accelerated had Molina, 35, gone to another club as a free agent over the winter. But Molina decided to return to the Giants, signing a one-year deal.

"The competitor in me wants to help the big club win, but if I do start at Fresno, I'm going to do everything I can to improve and get back up here," Posey said.

-- The Associated Press

Mets manager Jerry Manuel let loose one of his loud chuckles. Yes, Jose Reyes did look healthy during New York's intrasquad game.

Reyes hit the first pitch he saw Monday for a two-run triple in his first game-like setting since he was sidelined for most of last season by an injured right leg.

"I just feel happy that I made it to third base with no problem, at that time," a grinning Reyes said. "But like I said, there's nothing to worry about. I feel good. No pain, pain-free. I feel good to be playing the game again."

Reyes, who has been a leadoff hitter for most of his career, batted third during the scrimmage. Manuel is toying with the move while All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran is expected to miss the start of the season following right knee surgery.

The Mets also got an encouraging outing from Jonathon Niese, who is coming back after tearing his right hamstring last year. The left-hander struck out the side in the first and worked around a one-out walk during a scoreless second.

"It's a good feeling to face hitters in a game situation. It's been awhile," said Niese, who is trying to win the No. 5 spot in New York's rotation. "It's good to get off to a good start."

-- The Associated Press

A BRAND-NEW YOU (2:07 p.m. ET)
Twins outfielder Delmon Young has a new attitude and a new body this spring.

He is far more personable and engaging, something that began developing the second half of last year when he become more comfortable with the way the Twins do things -- and because the Twins showed him how much they wanted him.

"He is a great teammate," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "He is a pleasure to be around."

Young says he has gone from 239 pounds at the end of last year to 207 this spring.

"I want to return the days of 2006," he said, referring to his rookie year, when he could run, and really play defense.

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

The St. Louis Cardinals are pleased with the way David Freese has handled his personal issues.

Freese was arrested in December outside of St. Louis on a drunken-driving charge. He apologized and is still slotted to be the team's third baseman this season.

"Obviously we were very unhappy with what happened," general manager John Mozeliak said Monday. "The very next day I met with him in my office and we talked about it. I made sure he understood dealing with the alcohol problem and dealing with the legal side was more important than baseball.

"If he could do all that then there wouldn't be any disciplinary actions. And that's what he's done."

Freese, 26, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23, nearly three times Missouri's legal limit of 0.08, when he was arrested on Dec. 12 in Maryland Heights. He immediately entered the team's employee assistance program and said he has not had a drink since.

The case still is pending.

"It was poor judgment on my part," said Freese. "But God puts things in front of you for a reason. I've definitely learned from it. I've got a great opportunity in front of me that a lot of kids would dream of having."

-- The Associated Press

With Kelvim Escobar hurting and unlikely to make the opening day roster, the Mets are reportedly interested in free-agent reliever Joe Beimel. But they might not be alone in pursuit of the left-hander.

Beimel's agent, Joe Sroba, told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that the Mets are not the only team interested in the set-up man, but declined to name the other teams. "It is not a one-horse race," Sroba said. Escobar, who had been penciled in as the Mets' set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez, has not been able to throw off a mound yet this spring. To fill that gap, the team has been auditioning pitchers including Ryota Igarashi, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green and Fernando Nieve.

Last year, Beimel was 1-6 with a 3.58 ERA with the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies.

A year ago, Beimel didn't sign until March 18.

-- news services

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who is Canadian, was all smiles Monday morning after Canada won the gold medal in hockey Sunday night. He watched the 3-2 overtime win over the United States with Twins minor league outfielder Rene Tosoni, who also is Canadian.

Morneau was a good hockey goalie growing up. "I had to make a decision," he said. "I made the right decision playing baseball. But I'll always love hockey. It's a great game. And it's a great team game."

Morneau said he is good friends with a number of players on the Canadian Olympic team, including Brenden Morrow.

"I texted four guys after the game," Morneau said. "They texted me back. They didn't have to do that with all that was going on."

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

The Mariners know they have a potent one-two punch in starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. And they're not going to rush either man during spring training.

Hernandez, for example, skipped an expected bullpen session on Sunday, playing long toss instead, and later told a reporter "I'm fine," cutting off an anticipated question about his health.

Manager Don Wakamatsu explained why the team is holding the reins tightly on both pitchers.

"The first bullpen Felix threw this spring, it looked like he was throwing 100 mph, and that's exactly what we didn't want," Wakamatsu said, according to the Tacoma News and Tribune. "We're trying to limit the innings Felix and Cliff throw this spring, and the intensity with which they throw early on.

"They're both competitive guys. You put Felix on the mound, he's going to go hard. So we're not putting him on the mound as much right now," Wakamatsu said, according to the report.

"I'm fine physically, but I throw when they tell me to throw," Lee said, according to the report. "They've got a plan and I'm good with it. I've played catch, I've played long toss. My arm feels great."

-- news services

Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy had his struggles in the field and at the plate in 2009. He committed 10 errors in 101 games at first, including a flubbed grounder that handed a win to Atlanta in September. He slumped to .234 in June before hitting .282 the rest of the way.

But now that he's sure of his spot in the lineup, Murphy changed his offseason workout routine to prepare for the job. He also got some fielding lessons from 11-time Gold Glove first baseman Keith Hernandez right before spring training started.

"Keith was great. He added a lot of things to first base I hadn't ever really thought of, some things to work on," Murphy said. "The biggest thing I thought was just getting to know your other infielders."

Murphy impressed the Mets with his progress when he was the only position player to attend a team minicamp in January, and has looked more comfortable in the field since regular camp started.

"The goal in New York is to win, so it's not just the way I play first base or how I can play compared to some of the other guys that come through -- some great players," Murphy said. "At the end of the day I've got to find a way to help this team win."

-- news services

Spring Training Blog: Feb. 24

February, 24, 2010
In a perfect world, Jason Giambi would be reporting to spring training as a designated hitter for a contender in the American League. Instead, Giambi returned to the Rockies in Tucson on Wednesday, where he will be an occasional fill-in for Todd Helton at first base and a pinch-hitter.

Giambi signed a one-year deal for $1.75 million in January after not being able to secure a job as an everyday DH. Just because it was Plan B doesn't make it any less desirable, Giambi said.

"Trust me, in a perfect world, I'd love to say I could still go out there every day at first base and still play," Giambi said after reporting to camp Wednesday. "I would've loved that opportunity to see what I could do [as a] DH day-in and out with a team that had an opportunity [to win]. But I enjoy it here. I really had a great time, and I'm excited to be back."

The 36-year-old Helton admitted to wearing down at the end of last season. He told Tracy that he was amenable to more rest this season, which would open up at-bats for Giambi. And Giambi's presence bolsters the bench and gives Tracy another left-handed bat to go with outfielder Seth Smith.

Helton said Giambi, a lifetime .282 hitter with 409 home runs and .527 slugging percentage, brings "intimidation" at the plate and a "clubhouse presence" to the Rockies. One of Giambi's strengths, Helton said, is his ability to discuss hitting and do it with a calming influence.

-- The Associated Press

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said RHP Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in June's draft, would make his first exhibition start on March 9 against Detroit at Space Coast Stadium and will pitch every fifth day, regardless of where the game was to be played.

Washington pitching coach Steve McCatty told he is looking forward to watching Strasburg throw against big league hitters.

"This will be my first chance to see him face hitters. Everybody is really excited," McCatty told "We'll see how it goes. Who knows what's going to happen after that. We are just going to go and see how it's going to works out. We are going to have a rain day every once in a while, so everything is always done in pencil."

-- news services

Joel Zumaya's overpowering pitching sessions have attracted a lot of attention in the early days of spring training. Just six months ago, as he was preparing for a second major operation in less than two years on his aching right shoulder, he wondered whether his career might be over at the age of 24.

"I've asked myself plenty of times: When does this stop? It's come down plenty of times to: That's enough, my arm is shot," Zumaya said. "I've had so many surgeries already. I've seen plenty of guys' careers end. They're done; they just make the decision to go home. I know I have some left. I have a lot left."

He has so much left that manager Jim Leyland sometimes shakes his head in disbelief.

"I watched him throwing the other day and I remarked to one of the coaches: 'How does a human being hit that?'" Leyland said. "That blows my mind ... the ball is exploding up there, and it's impressive enough that he can throw it that way; it's more impressive that somebody can hit it."

The Tigers would like Zumaya to take back the eighth-inning role he had in his rookie season of 2006, when he struck out 97 in 83 1/3 innings and they won the pennant.

"It bothered me all last year," Zumaya said. "I kept my mouth shut, but it hurt all year. I tried to do as much as I could to help this team, and it's probably my fault that I did it but I'm a competitor. I don't want to sit on the bench and watch my teammates go out there and battle it off, and then the seventh and eighth inning come along and the game goes the other way."

-- The Associated Press

The Phillies say they have some "unfinished business" this year after falling two wins shy of repeating as World Series champions.

"Last year didn't go the way we wanted it to," Ryan Howard said. "Hopefully everyone comes in here with the mindset of unfinished business, everyone gets locked in and we have a good spring training and carry it out to the season."

The two-time defending NL champions are hoping for another long season that carries into late October and possibly early November. But they've got a long way to go before they get there. The team held its second full-squad workout Wednesday and live batting practice starts Thursday.

Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez are among the hitters scheduled to face new ace Roy Halladay.

-- The Associated Press

Vernon Wells says he's finally prepared to assume the mantle of leadership for the youth-laden Toronto Blue Jays.

"It's a fun role to be in," he said. "Guys look at you to do the right things and how to be successful at this level. It's a role I'm looking forward to. For me, it's pretty easy. You expect guys to go out and play hard. That's my point to everybody. There's one thing you can control in this game and that's going out and playing the game the right way and respecting the game. Things will work out after that."

Manager Cito Gaston said Wells and second baseman/designated hitter Aaron Hill, starting his sixth season, "are probably going to be two guys who step up and do it. You've always got to remember you lead by example.

"You're going to have bad nights and you're going to have to handle them the right way. You're going to have good nights and you're going to have to handle them the right way," Gaston said. "Leadership is tough to do. Some people are leaders, some are not."

One thing Wells has going for him this spring is a pain-free left wrist. He fractured it making a sliding catch in Cleveland on May 10, 2008, underwent surgery and missed 26 games, and 25 more because of hamstring problems.

-- The Associated Press

Pirates reliever Octavio Dotel is off to a slower start than he expected at spring training.

Dotel strained a muscle on the left side of his upper body Sunday while throwing a bullpen session. The injury is not considered serious, but Dotel has been shut down for a few days as a precaution.

The 36-year-old Dotel has pitched a total of 160 innings over the past three years. The Pirates signed the oft-injured pitcher in the offseason.

"It's good that it wasn't a big pop or a snap or anything," manager John Russell said Wednesday. "It's better it happened now than later in camp. There are no concerns he won't be ready for the season."

The Pirates already had planned on taking it easy with their new closer. Like Dotel, right-hander Brendan Donnelly also will be eased into his spring workload.

-- The Associated Press

Brett Anderson, who went 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA and finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year balloting last season, is concentrating on improving his changeup. He went home to Stillwater, Okla., in the offseason and worked on the pitch with his father, Frank, the head baseball coach at Oklahoma State.

Anderson hopes the pitch will help him put more balls in play early in counts and allow him to go deeper in games. He threw 175 1/3 innings in his rookie season.

"I've thrown a change before, but it's never been a confidence pitch for me," Anderson said. "I've always had enough confidence in my slider and curveball to throw them whenever I wanted to. [The changeup] is getting better, but it's a process."

Anderson also plans to do a better job of moving the ball around in the strike zone. He recalls a confrontation with Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval last year, when he kept pounding the inside corner with fastballs before finally surrendering a three-run homer.

"No matter how good your stuff is, if big league hitters are looking for one pitch in one location, they're definitely going to hit it," Anderson said.

-- Jerry Crasnick,

This spring, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is looking for someone to pitch the eighth inning, and deliver the ball to closer Francisco Rodriguez. When asked which of the many candidates might have a slight edge, he pointed at 30-year-old right-hander Ryota Igarashi from Japan.

"He throws strikes, and he has this," Manuel said, putting his right hand in a split-fingered grip position. "He could give a different look to hitters the first month of the season."

Igarashi, 30, was 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 56 games last year for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, in Japan. Kelvim Escobar, Bobby Parnell and Sean Green are other likely candidates for the set-up role.

The Mets opened camp with a rotation that includes Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine. Jonathon Niese is perhaps the leader among several candidates for the fifth starter spot.

Finding a complement for Santana at the top of the rotation will be crucial to the Mets' chances to contend in the National League East. Perez, always erratic, came to camp in very good shape, several Mets said. He has worked with Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in camp and has, from all reports, thrown the ball well in his bullpen sessions this spring.

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

When the Mariners trotted out for infield drills on Tuesday, second baseman Jose Lopez went to third base and newly acquired third baseman Chone Figgins headed over to second.

Was it spring training jitters? Or some clubhouse humor at the new guy's expense? No, and no. Lopez has been asked to give third base a try, while Figgins, who has big league experience at second, will move across the infield.

"I'll try to catch ground balls at third base and see what happens at spring training, play in a couple of games," Lopez said, according to The Seattle Times. "If I like it, I like it. I'll try."

Lopez said he had a hunch that he might be asked to make the shift when the Mariners signed Figgins, according to the report. And when Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu approached him with the idea, he agreed to give it a try.

"Figgins is a good guy and quick," Lopez said, according to the Times. "He's got better range. And we need it. I've got a better arm than Figgins at third base, especially with a diving catch. But it's no big deal. I'll wait for the games and see how I'm feeling in the games."

"We're going to look at it and see," Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said, according to the report. "There's nothing etched in stone right now. We're just looking to see what our different options are."

-- news services

The comparisons already are out of control for Atlanta Braves prospect Jason Heyward.

Chipper Jones says the 6-foot-5 Heyward looks like former Braves first baseman Fred McGriff, only bigger.

Eric Hinske says Heyward hits line drives like Cliff Floyd.

Leave it to manager Bobby Cox to trump those comparisons.

Cox says the ball sounds different coming off Heyward's bat. It's a sound Cox says he has heard before -- "kind of like ol' Hank Aaron's sound."

Heyward calls Cox's comparison to the Hall of Famer "awesome." Even more exciting to the 20-year-old is the word from Cox that Heyward can win a starting job in right field this spring.

-- The Associated Press

Spring Training Blog: Feb. 22

February, 22, 2010
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman says his toughest adjustment since defecting from Cuba has been getting used to the food and the language.

The Reds signed the hard-throwing lefty to a six-year, $30.25 million deal last month. He's getting a chance to make the starting rotation in spring training, though the Reds say they're going to be patient and not rush the 21-year-old.

The Reds will give Chapman a chance to win a spot in the rotation during spring training, but aren't pushing him. They're giving him as much time as he needs to get acclimated to the new culture and the major leagues.

"We really don't have a timetable, and I don't think it's good to have a timetable," Jocketty said. "I think we'll find out as we go along."

"We're just going to let him develop. You don't really know what he's capable of yet. You watch him on the mound and you can see the ability, but we don't know until he gets into a game and faces hitters if he's ready now or it's going to take some time."

Chapman said it was very difficult to leave his wife, daughter and the rest of his family behind when he defected.

"It was a very hard decision," Chapman said through translator and pitching coach Tony Fossas. "But in Cuba, they told me I had to be brave and make the move."

-- The Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays brought 37 pitchers to spring training, including 10 non-roster players invited to camp and two on the disabled list.

"We've got so many pitchers here we need names on their back," Jays manager Cito Gaston said Monday as the team began its first official spring training workout.

But the impact player may be the one who isn't here: Roy Halladay.

Toronto's former ace was traded to Philadelphia after last season for three minor leaguers -- catcher Travis d'Arnaud, first baseman Brett Wallace and pitcher Kyle Drabek, son of 13-year veteran pitcher and 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. None is expected to make the Blue Jays' roster this season.

The principal candidates for the No. 1 spot in the rotation are left-hander Ricky Romero, 13-9 as a rookie last year, and right-hander Shaun Marcum, 24-17 in four seasons before sitting out 2009 following shoulder surgery.

"Who's my No. 1? Who's my No. 2?" Gaston said. "You talk about two guys. We hope their arms are OK but you don't know until they start pitching in competition."

-- The Associated Press


Carl Crawford wants to win -- and be paid.

Tampa Bay's three-time All-Star left fielder reported to spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., and says he's focused on helping the Rays get back to the playoffs, not the prospect of becoming a free agent after the season.

Crawford is set to earn $10 million in the final season of a $33.5 million, six-year contract.

"I'm hoping for the best, like always. But right now, I really don't know," Crawford said, adding the "best" would reaching a deal that'll keep him in Tampa Bay. "I wish something good will come out of it, but at this point we really haven't done too much [negotiating] and I don't know when we will."

If the 28-year-old winds up on the open market, he's likely to command a much larger salary than the budget-conscious Rays can afford to pay.

The team's career leader in hits, runs, stolen bases, RBIs and games played says the situation could go either way.

-- The Associated Press

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has a back problem, but expects to be OK for Opening Day.

Roberts has been diagnosed with a small herniated disk. He says he's on the right track in his preparation for the start of the season.

Roberts intends to do some light hitting Tuesday when the Orioles hold their first full-squad workout. He worked out in the weight room Monday after taking his physical.

He says he won't need surgery to repair the disk.

-- The Associated Press

Andy Pettitte gave some serious thought to going out as a champion last year.

It turns out the 37-year-old left-hander wasn't quite ready to retire, even after the New York Yankees won the World Series.

Pettitte opted to return this season after talking with his family, and he signed an $11.75 million, one-year contract in December.

Pettitte went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA last season, throwing 194 2/3 innings, to help the Yankees win their first championship since 2000.

This year, he's part of a strong rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez.

Pettitte has 192 wins with the Yankees, third on the franchise list. He is scheduled for his first spring training bullpen session on Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

Ivan Rodriguez worked the Washington Nationals clubhouse like a savvy D.C. politician glad-handing at a fundraiser. He paused at every locker, shaking hands with new teammates, paying particular attention to the pitchers who will soon be throwing to him.

He warmly greeted veterans and rookies alike, some youngsters awed that a future Hall of Famer was introducing himself to them.

"Years ago, I was watching that guy on TV and now I'm playing on the same team," beamed fellow catcher Jesus Flores.

Rodriguez has been through this getting-to-know-you process before, and quickly bonding is an important part of assimilating into a new team culture. The 38-year-old might not be the offensive threat he once was, but the player known as "Pudge" wasn't really brought to Washington for his offense.

"My main job is defense behind the plate, to make the pitcher feel comfortable with me. ... That's my game," said Rodriguez, who signed a two-year, $6 million free-agent deal with the Nationals in December.

-- The Associated Press

There was a palpable feeling of relief in Marlins camp with ace Josh Johnson signed to a four-year deal, meaning there will be no negotiating during the season, and absolutely no chance that he will be traded should the team somehow be out of the race at the end of July.

"Huge," said Marlins catcher John Baker. "I would put him up against anyone."

Baker said that last year, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano told him during a game, "I'm so glad he's not in our league."

Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who has terrific stuff, shook his head in amazement at a guy "who can throw 98 mph with that kind of control. Pitchers just can't do that."

Marlins coach Carlos Tosca, a former Blue Jays manager, said "even though their stuff is different, he reminds me in every way of Roy Halladay."

Johnson, despite his new contract, came to camp as the same guy he has always been: playful but serious, a leader in every way. The only difference is a new, really short haircut.

"[Pitcher] Rick VandenHurk cut it," Johnson said. "He wanted to do it. I don't care. A teammate cut my hair last year, also."

As for haircuts, Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan, who made a trip to Iraq with a Marlins contingent in the offseason, allowed American soldiers there to cut his hair. They gave him a mohawk.

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

Minnesota Twins reliever Jose Mijares will be late to spring training.

Mijares was absent from Monday's first official workout for pitchers and catchers because of an unspecified issue at home in Venezuela. Disappointed manager Ron Gardenhire said Mijares is expected to arrive in Fort Myers on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Twins didn't learn of the delay until Monday morning. Gardenhire says Mijares needs to be more accountable.

Mijares also missed the team's annual fan festival last month because of a visa problem. The 25-year-old left-hander had a 2.34 ERA in 71 appearances last season. The Twins have been concerned about his conditioning in the past.

"He knows the days you're supposed to be here. Everybody's here, except one guy. That should tell him a little bit about himself," Gardenhire said. "He's got to figure it out and do a better job. We've got plenty of people who want to pitch."

-- The Associated Press

Milton Bradley arrived at the Seattle Mariners' spring training complex Monday morning for his physical, proclaiming that he primarily wants to have fun playing.

Bradley, slated to play left field and share designated hitter duties with Ken Griffey, Jr., was thrilled to meet his new teammate. Griffey was the first Mariner to greet Bradley -- the pair's locker stalls are near each other -- and they briefly embraced.

The Mariners picked up Bradley in a December trade with the Chicago Cubs in search of a bat to insert into the middle of the lineup. They also assumed the character risks with Bradley, who is with his eighth team and has been at the center of several controversial incidents involving fans, the media and his own fits of frustration.

"It's all the same things," Bradley said of his conversations with every new team he joins before he arrives. "'Are you looking forward to this,' or 'it's a fresh start,' all that cliche stuff. But I don't believe in all that. I'm just, 'You go about your business.' I believe if people allow you to be you and don't steer you in any certain direction or don't steer people's thoughts in a certain direction, then things will work out the way they're supposed to."

-- The Associated Press

Brad Lidge has thrown 20 pitches off a mound, his first bullpen session since offseason surgeries on his elbow and knee.

Lidge says he felt no pain Monday and is concentrating on building up arm strength. It's far too early to know whether the closer will be ready when the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies open the season at Washington on April 5.

Lidge said last week he was two weeks behind schedule, but he's making progress.

"I'd say I'm right about the same," he said. "I feel I'm right ahead of that two weeks. With the bullpen today, I kind of stayed right there. I didn't come out and feel 100 percent. That being said, nothing hurts and I was able to use my body in the way I was hoping to this year without having any pain or side effects. It's all about building arm strength now and I'm going to have to do a lot of work to get that."

Pitching coach Rich Dubee says Lidge threw only fastballs and was encouraged by his first step.

-- The Associated Press

The Orioles traded for 35-year-old Kevin Millwood during the winter meetings because they wanted an experienced arm at the top of their rotation and a clubhouse leader who could lead the team's young pitching staff by example.

The role of mentor is a comfortable fit for Millwood, who went 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA in 2009, the last of his four seasons with the Texas Rangers, and has won 155 games in a 13-year major league career.

"I'm having a good time," he said. "These guys seem like they're willing to learn and want to get better. The most fun for me would be seeing these guys succeed."

Millwood can be vocal, but he's more likely to lead by example. Perhaps it comes from his exposure to star pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz after breaking into the majors with the Atlanta Braves in 1997.

"It's just kind of the way that I am," he said. "I had a lot of guys who kind of showed me the way when I was young. I've just done that my whole career. I think that's the right way to do it."

-- The Associated Press

The San Francisco Giants had hoped infielder Pablo Sandoval -- also known as "Kung Fu Panda" for his generous physique -- would make strides along with his teammates in slimming down this offseason.

"Operation Panda," the diet and exercise regimen put in place by head trainer Dave Groeschner, has resulted in several slightly smaller Giants. But Sandoval, the project's namesake, has not yet reached his desired weight, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"He's still a work in progress," Groeschner said of Sandoval on Sunday, according to the report. "He's working hard, and he's still working to slim down. We're trying to stay on top of this because he's not where we wanted him yet."

Sandoval, who's reportedly aiming at 250 pounds as his target weight, dropped 12 pounds during offseason workouts at the team's spring training facility in Arizona. But that progress stalled while he was playing winter ball in Venezuela.

"He didn't have a huge setback [in Venezuela], but he didn't have an advancement," Groeschner said, according to the report.

-- news services